One of the unexpected pleasures of working in Treforest has been the cycle ride into work. When I first attempted the cycle ride in August across the Taff Trail with my Sat Nav guiding I didn’t think it was possible. The Nav seemed to – literally - take me round the houses. After a few hair raising detours I threw the towel in and caught the train from Taffs Wells on my maiden voyage.
November the 11th, my first day in the new job was depressing enough without it raining, the train in was very depressing. My fourth day into the job I cycled in and felt like I won the Tour de France. Eventually I cycled both up and back. The first time I cycled back – one dark Friday night - was terrifying. I just had my cheap Halfords front light which got swallowed up in the few inches of the inky darkness of the Trail. I cycled very tentatively with the river on my right and hoping I wasn’t going to end up in it. It was a huge relief when I caught to the familiar terrain of the ParkRun section of the Taff Trail. That Saturday I walked into a bike shop and said “Give me your brightest light!” which made the dark rides back more pleasant and safer.
One of the most terrifying parts of the journey initially was cycling up to a roundabout and take a right through a town whose name escapes me, but after a while I could see other cyclists taking the turn left. I decided to take the plunge and follow them and it was a far nicer ride past Castle Coch and through Tongwynlais.
Most of the time I feel so lucky to be able to do the journey. It takes around 50 minutes each way with a good wind behind me. The journey is never the same. During the winter there were felled trees which had to be cycled around on the way up, but had been sawn through to provide a Hobbity style gateway on the way back. I’ve felt closer to the changing of the seasons since I’ve been cycling the route. I've been leaving it a little later to turn to light on the ride back until I didn't need to swith it on at all, singing “SOS” by ABBA when no one is around, and smelling the wild garlic which has sprung up near Blackweir recently.
There are three mini Waterfalls on my journey. One is at Blackweir and has long been a favorite part of Cardiff of mine, then there’s one up by Llandaff Rowing club which is amazing, further up you see groups of canoeists amongst the ducks. The last waterfall is up by Radyr train station which has three felled trees at its edge which divide the flow as the river Taff runs parallel with me for the majority of my journey. You can see the ridges of the roots of the trees buckling the tarmac of the Taff Trail, nature will always win in the end.
I noticed one morning on a bridge I cycle under scrawled “Rave on Smurf”. Who is/was Smurf? Is he still raving on? I do hope so. The graffiti makes me smile most mornings, and sometimes I join in and say aloud "Rave on smurf, rave on." I also smile at my fellow cyclists and sometimes get a smile back, as I do with the runners. It’s been nice to recognise some of the same faces on the Trail through the week.
Of course it’s not always a pleasure to cycle. Sometimes the weather comes and gives you a nice old slap round the chops. There was one day I cycled in when I couldn’t getting anymore soaked and started to giggle. I wasn’t giggling when I had to cycle back in my wet clothes and there was one occasion when I cycled into Taffs Wells as it was hailing, and it felt like someone throwing little ice darts at my face.
Yet now that Spring has sprung the ride up and back is amazing, a real joy. The river has a sparkling emerald colour from the trees which reach across it as birds skim the surface.
The ride makes me glad to be alive